Surprise! A late fifth entry into our “Real Deals” series—identifying prospect targets for the Marlins in a potential J.T. Realmuto trade—comes in the form of the Rays. MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro was among several reporters this past weekend to indicate that Tampa Bay has “re-engaged” Miami after briefly backing away from the bargaining table. As a result, they have earned the right to their own segment in this series.
The following Rays prospects would not have to relocate far in order to find a new home in sunny South Florida!
SS Wander Franco (Baseball America’s #4 Prospect)
Readers, do you recall what I previously wrote about the chances that Reds’ Nick Senzel would be in a trade? If you do, then simply copy and paste that mental thought under Franco’s name.
For those that may not remember, the point here is that Franco will not be a part of any Realmuto trade package; nor should he be. The Rays would be foolish to consider Franco a trade piece. Similar to other consensus Top 10 prospects in baseball, he is off the table.
As for what he would bring over in an imaginary trade? 70-grade hit and power tools, an above-average glove, and a strong arm from a premium position.
Like I said, he won’t be a part of this deal.
RHP Brent Honeywell (Baseball America’s #23 Prospect)
Honeywell is an interesting candidate, due to a few secondary questions concerning his previous Tommy John surgery, as well as the Rays likely desire to withhold him from trade talks. Pegged as the future ace of the Rays, it is entirely understandable—similar to the Braves’ Anderson—if Honeywell is kept off limits.
However, the secondary question at hand is also whether the Marlins would have interest in the Tommy John patient. Tommy John surgery is no longer the red flag it once was, but in a deal where the Marlins need talent and safe prospects, I am uncertain that Honeywell checks both boxes.
On the mound, the 23-year-old righty, boasts five above-average pitches. Yes, you read that correctly: five. He is also known for his rendition of the screwball, which many consider his strongest and most effective pitch. Similar to the Braves’ Anderson, Brent Honeywell would immediately become the future ace of the Marlins organization.
LHP/1B Brendan McKay (Baseball America’s #47 Prospect)
Currently considered both a pitching and position player, McKay is slowly but surely trending towards being a pitching-only prospect. Nonetheless, his ability to swing the bat is not to be overlooked, and in the NL, the Marlins could become creative about how they could utilize the multi-faceted 23 year old from Pennsylvania.
My estimate? McKay eventually prioritizes pitching, where he yields a plus fastball and cutter, alongside an effective curveball and changeup mix. Even being a prospect that has split time between his two crafts, he would immediately become the best pitching prospect in the Marlins system, although significant risk is attached to his prospect profile.
OF Jesús Sánchez (Baseball America’s #62 Prospect)
Do not let Sánchez’ prospect ranking fool you—the 6-foot-3 outfielder has equivalent tools to that of most Top 50 prospects. A 55-hit tool and 60-grade power is more than enough to make him a centerpiece of any Rays’ package. The caveat with Sánchez is his need for better plate discipline and strike zone recognition. He drew only 26 walks in 488 plate appearances last summer, a 5.3 percent rate.
However, in only his age-21 season, the projectability of Sánchez is as enticing as any of the previously discussed prospects throughout this series.
Defensively, Sánchez profiles as a corner outfielder, as his arm and range are both considered average at-best.
The Rays system is amongst the best in baseball. If the reports of their interest in acquiring Realmuto are correct—similar to the Braves—they have the talent and depth to do so. The depth in their system is the key. Tampa Bay can offer multiple tier 2 prospects from their system, which would be equivalent to higher prospects in competing farms. The Marlins would be wise to take Tampa’s interest as significant. There is no rush to make a deal, as Spring Training is still a few weeks away.
Some other names who could be considered centerpieces or very strong secondaries: #64 Vidal Brujan, #93 Brandon Lowe, #56 Ronaldo Hernandez, Lucius Fox, Matthew Liberatore.